Terry Crews’s Torment, And The Effects Of Toxic Masculinity

October 2017 saw the rise of the #MeToo movement, a hashtag spread across social media to demonstrate the widespread frequency of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Started by Tarana Burke and popularized by Alyssa Milano, the hashtag and accompanying stories were primarily shared by women and more effeminate men.

So, what about masculine-presenting men?

It is easy to hear sexual assault victim and picture a woman, a more effeminate-presenting man, or a child. People heap pity on the survivors, seeing them as “poor things” and inherently “weak” individuals that need protection to prevent further assault. The stereotypes are strong. However, approximately 1 in 6 men are victims of sexual assault. In a room of 100 men, approximately 16-to-17 of them have experienced sexual assault to some degree.

Surely, that statistic does not only apply to effeminate men or men assaulted as children. What about larger men? Stronger men?

Men like Terry Crews?

I mean, seriously. I can’t be the only one who goes “YES!” any time Terry Crews pops up unexpectedly in a movie.

You see, during the wave of #MeToo revelations that set the stages of Hollywood ablaze and tossed chaos into the impending awards season, Terry Crews announced that he, too, is a victim of sexual assault. Despite his size and stature, Crews’s assailant—William Morris Endeavor agent Adam Venit—held power over him. As a high-power agent that producers were protecting, Crews was limited to what he could do.

“The producer of [the Expendables] called my manager and asked him to drop my case in order for me to be in the fourth installment of the movie,” Crews shared in his courtroom testimony on June 26th, 2018. “If I didn’t, there would be trouble.”

Crews ultimately chose to leave the movie installment and pursue his case.

Terry Crews testifying on June 26th, 2018, where he explained in detail the atrocities that befell him by someone he trusted.

“The assault lasted only minutes, but what he was effectively telling me while he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power,” reported Crews. “That he was in control.”

Sure sounds like sexual assault to me.

Why didn’t you fight back? People often ask victims of sexual assault, including rape. As someone who unfortunately has close friends that are victims, their responses mirror those shared in news stories and crime shows:

I was afraid he’d kill me. I figured if I laid there and took it, he’d get done and leave me alone.

I didn’t want to lose my job/scholarship. My assailant had power over me.

I couldn’t risk making a scene and losing everything for my family.

In response to these claims, many sexual assault victims are told that they deserved it, that they are weak, or that they are lying. Their assaults are trivialized unless they legitimately mauled their assailant, regardless of the repercussions that would have caused.

While fighting back is the ideal thing to do when being assaulted, it is not always possible. If faced with death as a consequence, would you still fight back?

Crews has another issue on his hands: ridicule. His assault has not only been trivialized, but he is being ridiculed for his admissions.

Celebrities like shot-many-times rapper 50 Cent and accused rapist Russell Simmons have responded to Crews’s allegations with laughing emojis and memes on their social media pages. Despite Crews’s typical Herculean display of strength, admitting to assault without striking his victim has rendered him as “weak” and “emasculated” in the eyes of other men.

Crews has spoken of the shame he suffered post-assault, and how it tormented his thoughts. He has spoken on how the mistreatment of his case is why more men do not come forward when they are assaulted. He has even spoken up and revealed that the reason for not beating the shit out of his assailant was to avoid being labeled as a “big, black thug” and getting blacklisted from an industry that was already protecting his and other sexual predators over their victims.

50 Cent’s insensitive and cruel Instagram post “roasting” Terry Crews. 50 Cent got so much hate on this picture that he deleted the post…but he can’t delete the screenshots…

Let us recall what happened during Crews’s assault: another man held and fondled his genitals for several minutes while reminding Crews of his lack of power.

Now, let’s look at what Crews’s Expendables producer, Avi Lerner, told Crews in regards to his assault:

“I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was just a joke. That this was just horseplay. But I can say that one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation.”

A joke?

Horseplay?

I am all for innocent fun. I think a lot of people in society overreact to many things nowadays. But what Crews is describing is neither a joke nor horseplay.

Jokes are funny phrases or pranks played Jackass style on friends and family.

Horseplay is what adolescent boys do in high school when they chase each other through the school hallways, tackling one another to the ground, and wrestling.

This is horseplay. This is fun. This is not assault. No genitals are being touched.

Fondling someone’s private parts against their will and reminding them of the repercussions of revealing their assault is sexual assault plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if the victim was male or female, young or old, or punched you in your rapist face or not. It is assault.

And while Crews shouldn’t need to explain his reasonings at all, the frequent discrimination against black men, the words of Venit and Lerner, and the blacklisting of Chloe Dykstra by her own assailant are more than enough proof to illustrate that Crews’s concerns were indeed valid.

While we need to be there for all assault victims, male assault victims hold a dear place in my heart. Ever since I was old enough to understand the concept of rape, I have heard people laugh at men who are raped and assaulted. These victims are told that they clearly wanted it, that a woman can’t rape a man, that they’re gay if they let a man rape them, or that they’re gay for not enjoying “good sex”.

For starters: Being gay is not a bad thing. Let’s go ahead and clear up that misconception. It’s 2018; what the hell is wrong with y’all?

Secondly: Anytime someone touches you when you don’t want them to touch you…it’s assault. Regardless of gender.

These are not hard concepts, y’all.

I am pleased to see that many people on my Twitter timeline have sent Terry Crews tweets of encouragement in recent days, assuring him that he is strong, he is a victim, and that he is doing the right thing for himself and for all other victims of assault…especially men.

Take a moment and send Crews kind words to combat the trolls and perpetuators. Support his shows (Brooklyn 99 is excellent!) and his projects. I can only imagine what sort of inner turmoil this poor man is going through, but even one tweet of support can make his day a little bit brighter and help other victims watching to see that they, too, have support.

#MeToo

In the wake of the assault and rape allegations that have come to light against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, a simple hashtag has overtaken social media on October 15th, 2017 and October 16th, 2017.

#MeToo.

The requirements to post this hashtag are simple: if you have ever experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault, post #MeToo.

It was actress Alyssa Milano who inspired this hashtag, suggesting that if “all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me, too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” That problem, of course, is sexual harassment and assault, which often goes unreported or unpunished due to the nature of society and the prevalence of the acts.

Now, before I continue, I want to preface this by saying that this isn’t a man-hating, feminist blog piece. I have never labeled myself as a “feminist” (preferring “egalitarian” instead). I don’t care if someone catcalls me as I walk down the road, as this usually makes me feel good. So stop rolling your eyes at this being “just another whiny snowflake” thinkpiece, and open your eyes and your hearts instead.

Last night, as I saw more and more friends post the #MeToo hashtag, at first I was shocked. For me, my first thought went to “rape” or “molestation”, until I realized that harassment was also included. That made more sense. But then, I saw some people referring to the #MeToo posters as “Victims”. What?

I am not a victim of assault. And I am thankful for that. However, I have experienced harassment. Not often. But it’s happened. Not enough to make me a victim.

It took me over twenty-four hours to post the #MeToo hashtag on my Twitter page. And that was for many reasons.

  1. For me, harassment is not prevalent. Half the time, I roll my eyes and delete the comment, or I spit fire back at them. It doesn’t ruin my day. I don’t have to get a restraining order. I don’t fear for my safety. Do I qualify?
  2. Harassment is different than assault. Rape victims were posting #MeToo in swarms. Why should I also use that hashtag when my personal experience with harassment has equaled unwanted dick pics and inappropriate comments about my curves and lips?
  3. I am not a victim. Or at least, I don’t consider myself to be one. Again, nothing I have experienced has led to me turmoil and therapy. Most of the times, it equates to me sending screenshots to friends and saying, “Look at this loser.” Why should I be allowed to use this hashtag amongst those who have been degraded so much?

And in this thinking, I realized that I was doing what so many in society do. What most in society do. What even some rape and molestation victims do.

I was making excuses for bad behaviour. I am justifying people’s douchey actions as a result of my own behaviour. What should I expect?

I am the one choosing to wear makeup and tight clothes in my selfies. I am the one putting glitter on my arms and breasts. I am the one creating sexy cosplays to wear at cons. I am the one doing so many squats to keep my booty perky. I am the one who promotes my social media (which features all of these things) constantly, has nothing locked down or private, and encourages people to share my work and my photographs. I am doing all of these things.

But…

I am not asking people to send me pictures of their genitals in my inbox (which is why my Snapchat is still public, but can now only receive snaps from those I’ve friended). I am not asking people to slide in my DMs with “Hey, kitty, kitty…” and call me a cunt when I don’t respond in 30 seconds flat. I am not asking people to comment “I bet you’d taste good on my face” on a video about donating to communities. I am not asking for any of these things.

Whenever people ask why I don’t go to clubs, I tell them that it’s for two reasons: overpriced drinks and douchebags.

The last time I went to a club was 2014. I went with one of my best friends, and we made a pact to pretend to be lesbians for the night to avoid creepers. Yes. We had to make a pact to have a good time. Even so, I can’t count the number of men and women who grabbed my ass that night as they walked by, even though I was wearing jeans. Once my friend and I began to drink, I can’t tell you the number of people who began to approach us.

By the end of the night, we allowed two men to dance with us. My dance partner pretended he wanted to whisper sometime to me and LICKED MY FACE when I leaned in to hear better. My friend’s dance partner grabbed her hand and shoved it down his pants.

We spent the rest of the night hiding in a handicapped stall together until a male friend came to pick us up, drunkely ranting to each other and to various friends we called about how everyone at that club was such an asshole and that this is why we stick to concerts and restaurants. We were pissed, and repeated issues like this is why we gave up on clubs.

This is not okay.

We weren’t roofied. We weren’t raped. And I’m sure we could easily scream from the mountains what happened, only to be told by people of all genders that 1) that’s what happens in clubs, 2) we shouldn’t have been wearing crop tops and skinny jeans, and 3) that we shouldn’t have been drinking for half the night.

And this is for a face lick and some inappropriate touching. A story that I normally tell humourously as a testament of why clubs are dumb. Just think if we had been sexually assaulted, and needed medical attention instead of a drunken girls’ gossip session in a restroom stall. What would have happened?

If we’re being honest, we all know that the answer is not enough.

And that’s why this hashtag exists.

And that’s why this hashtag is important.

And that’s why I’ve learned to say…

#MeToo.

When A “Temp Job” Changes Your Life…

Today is September 20th, 2017. Today marks ten years since I accepted a position at Spencer’s Gifts in my local mall. And with no over-dramaticism in effect, that job truly paved the way for my current life.

My first job was at GameStop, which I got as a 16-year-old in March 2017. It was fun, but the hours weren’t consistent, and so I decided to get a second job for some extra spending money. I originally wanted to work at Hot Topic, since I personally knew their store manager, but she informed me that no positions were open at the time. Instead of leaving me hanging, she recommended that I try out Spencer’s instead.

I’d actually never been into a Spencer’s until that day, but I decided to give it a shot. I was greeted at the door by a guy dressed in a Rurouni Kenshin shirt and hakama pants, who handed me my application. I filled out the application while noticing the rack of marijuana lollipops on the counter and a blow-up doll stuffed behind the desk, and I wondered what the hell I was getting myself into. Still, I didn’t worry. This was to be a temp job for a few months so that I could splurge my way through senior year.

Quickly, that all changed. I began picking up more hours at Spencer’s, and it became my dominant job. I was getting responsibilities at Spencer’s that GameStop wouldn’t give me. I was meeting great people. I got promoted, and I left GameStop in the dust.

My friends today are a direct result of my employment at Spencer’s. Some of my best friends, like Lee and Erica, are former co-workers. Other friends, like Eric and Brian, were frequent customers that I got to know and would hang out with after hours.

Spencer’s also altered my education route. When I started at Spencer’s, I planned to attend UofL for my undergrad, since they’d given me a full ride. But I really wanted to attend Bellarmine University, who’d only given me a partial scholarship. My Spencer’s crew convinced me to follow my heart, and that’s how I wound up at Bellarmine, and wound up with the Writing Communications degree that UofL didn’t have to offer.

Did I mention that I’d never heard of cosplay before working at Spencer’s? Or knew that smaller anime conventions that weren’t on the West Coast or East Coast were a thing? Or that, as an anime fan, I needed to start cosplaying immediately and running panels?

That’s right. Without Spencer’s Gifts, there would be no “AngieChu”.

I was actually an extreme introvert until my senior year of high school. My Spencer’s co-workers quickly broke me out of my shell and helped to build my confidence and my voice. They taught me that shameless self-promotion is a beautiful thing, and to embrace my flaws and my perfections alike.

I spent over seven years at Spencer’s Gifts, even after finishing my undergrad. Many family members and other friends tried to convince me to take “adult” jobs because that’s what society expects, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready. I legitimately loved my job, and I wasn’t going to throw that away for a societal need and another job that I wasn’t really that gung-ho about anyway.

It wasn’t until November 2014, when I was crumbling under the weight of extreme debt and several of my long-time staff members were also thinking of leaving, that I was finally ready to change jobs. And I’m happy for listening to my heart and waiting until I knew that it was the right time to leave. Mentally, I wasn’t ready to leave Spencer’s in December 2012. There was still more that I needed to learn, and more that life at Spencer’s had to teach me.

My co-workers felt the same. As corny as it sounds, we truly became a family from our long-time stints at that store. We are all still extremely close and hang out frequently. We travel to see one another. We are in each other’s weddings. We all keep constant contact all of these years later.

I don’t think many people realize how important it was to have your co-workers be such a support system during your teens and early 20s. So much changes in your life during those years, and it’s easy to fall down a wrong path and get into a heap of trouble. But we were all there to hold each other accountable, keep each other out of danger, and help to bail each other out of jams. We weren’t alone. We had each other. And that’s the best thing that you can hope for during adolescence.

We went through celebratory highs like graduations, birthdays, vacations, and marriages. We went through the lowest of lows with cancer, miscarriages, abuse, and poverty. But we all came out okay, and our real-life Spencer’s Saga was heaps more entertaining than any scripted episode of The Hills could ever be.

In conclusion, that random act that began as an attempt to buy more video games turned into one of the most pivotal decisions in my entire 27 years on this Earth. I can’t thank my past co-workers and customers enough for helping to mold me into the Chu that I am today, and I will leave you all with one tidbit of advice:

Don’t settle for second-best. Whether in terms of a job, a relationship, or life itself. Follow your heart, do what is best for you, and find a job that makes you want to get up in the morning. You’ll thank yourself for it 💖.